Granite Chin Promotions (GCP) and Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE) hosted a press conference yesterday at The Ballot Box in Worcester, Massachusetts, to make a major announcement, as well as introduce local fighters on the August 17th pro boxing card at The Palladium in Worcester.
Three-time, two-division world champion “El Gallo” Jose Antonio Rivera (41-6-1, 24 KOs) is making his return in the “Making History” main event, in large part because he wanted to fight on the same card as his son, A.J. Rivera, who was to become the first pro boxer who was born with Spina Bifida. A.J., who is a rising matchmaker in New England, was unable to get medically cleared in time and he will not be fighting Aug. 17.
The event has been renamed, “Homecoming”, because six of the competing fighters, including Jose Antonio Rivera, live in Worcester.
“Unfortunately,” announced promoter Chuck Shearns, who co-promotes Granite Chin Promotions with Chris Traietti, “A.J. isn’t fighting on this show because he couldn’t get medically cleared in time.”
“I trained hard and was within five or six pounds of my contract weight,” a disappointed A.J. Rivera explained. “I passed all of the medical tests except for the CATSCAN. I fought the doctor a little and said I wanted a second opinion. Those results won’t be in time, so I can’t fight on this card.”
“The reason I’m coming back was to make history with my son,” Jose Antonio Rivera added. “We had talked about it a long time but, unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be for A.J. for this card. He’s already part of history already as the only fighter born with Spina Bifida who fought as an amateur. I feel bad, but everything happens for a reason and as a father, my son’s safety always comes first. He will continue to be an important part of our team to make our company a success. People are thrown curveballs in life like this and we’ve regrouped to turn this into a positive. We’re still fighting for the cause (Spina Bifida).”
Now 45 years old, Rivera has already lost more than 30 pounds, and he is within eight of his contracted weight for his eight-round fight against Ruben “Modern Day Warrior” Galvan (27-26-4, 10 KOs).
In 1997, Rivera captured the International Boxing Organization (IBO) World welterweight title, stopping Gilberto Flores in the second round. Six years later, he traveled to Germany to take on undefeated, hometown favorite Michel Trabant (38-0) for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) World Welterweight Championship, in which Rivera won a 12-round decision and the belt.
Two fights later, in front of nearly 10,000 hometown fans in Worcester, Rivera won a 12-round unanimous decision in 2006 over defending champion Alejandro Garcia (25-1) for the WBA World super welterweight title.
Middleweight Kendrick Ball, Jr. (9-1-2, 6 KOs) and junior middleweight Khiary Gray (15-4, 11 KOs), both promoted by CES Boxing, will be making their pro debuts at home in Worcester. Ball faces an opponent to be determined in the six-round co-featured event, while Gray (15-4, 11 KOs) meets Antonio Chaves Fernandez (9-33, 4 KOs), of Brockton, MA, also in a six rounder.
Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Richard “Popeye The Sailor Man” Rivera (8-0, 7 KOs), fighting out of Hartford, CT, is slated to fight in a six-round bout vs. TBA, as well as his stable mate, two-time New England Golden Gloves champion “The Chosen One” Sharad Collier (1-0, 1 KO), who takes on his Mexican opponent, Emmanuel “Pollo” Valadez (5-4, 4 KOs), in a four-round match.
Also scheduled to fight on the undercard in four-round bouts are Springfield, MA welterweight Jose Angel “KO” Ortiz Jose Angel “KO” Ortiz (4-13-1, 1 KO) vs. Seth Basler (0-8) and pro-debuting featherweight Joshua Orta vs. Worcester’s Edwin Rosado (1-7-1, 1 KO), Southbridge, MA welterweight Wilfredo “El Sucaro” Pagan (4-0, 2 KOs) vs. TBA, Worcester lightweight Francisco Irizarry (4-0, 2 KOs) vs. TBA, Worcester’s pro-debuting lightweight Eslih Owusu.vs. Mexican Engelberto “Guarura” Valenzuela (11-14 (3 KOs).
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets, priced at $75.00 (ringside) and $45.00 (general admission), are on sale and available to purchase at www.ThePalladium.net or the Palladium box office (general admission only), or by contacting Jose Rivera (firstname.lastname@example.org/508.864.6954), AJ Rivera (email@example.com/774.272.2269) or any of the fighters.